Citroën is hoping to “breathe more life” into the large car market with the C5X, the French manufacturer’s unconventional new flagship model.
With a silhouette that draws on SUV, estate and saloon car styling cues, the C5X straddles several core market segments.
It is set to hit the UK early next year with a choice of pure-petrol and plug-in hybrid powertrains, while prioritising long-distance refinement and ushering in a raft of features and systems new to the brand.
The model’s ‘X’ suffix refers to its market positioning at “the crossroad of customers’ needs”, according to Citroën, and it offers the raised ride height of an SUV, the extended rear cabin of an estate car and the “elegance” of a saloon.
Certain styling cues – most notably the LED headlight design – are inspired by the radical CXperience concept, which was shown in 2016 and with which the C5X also shares its so-called ‘Advanced Comfort’ design ethos.
The new model was conceived to replicate the ‘magic carpet’ driving style of historic Citroën saloon cars such as the DS and CX. It uses a hydraulic cushion suspension set-up, as fitted to the C5 Aircross, for a ride that aims to “overcome all obstacles, potholes, kerbs, speed bumps and other road connections”.
The plug-in hybrid version is equipped as standard with a drive mode selector giving a choice of three suspension settings. The Advanced Comfort design ethos is most prevalent in the cabin, which majors on space, luxury appeal and advanced technology and features Citroën’s new mattress-style Advanced Comfort seat designs.
A 12in touchscreen controls an all-new infotainment system with voice control, smartphone mirroring, over-the-air updates and a tablet-style customisable home screen, while standard equipment includes four USB sockets and a full-colour head-up display.
Alongside the introduction of new technology, interior space and practicality was a priority for the design team, with Citroën highlighting the 2785mm wheelbase which allows “outstanding” rear seat space and a 545-litre boot – accessible via an electronic boot lid with a low sill and flat floor for ease of loading. “It’s a car you want to drive, but you want to be driven in as well”, said designer Pierre Leclercq.
A panoramic roof and large windows are said to enhance brightness, and acoustic lamination for the front and rear windows helps to keep road noise down in the cabin. The combustion engine offering has yet to be officially detailed, but will likely comprise the Puretech 130 and 180 petrol engines offered elsewhere, each driving the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and priced from around £27,000.
The front-driven plug-in hybrid version, which will cost from around £35,000, uses a powertrain shared with other electrified PSA models using the C5X’s EMP2 platform. A 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine is paired with a gearbox-mounted electric motor for a combined output of 222bhp, while a 13.2kWh battery gives an electric range of 31 miles. Full performance and economy figures will be detailed in the coming months.
Citroën anticipates tempting C5X buyers away from more conventional models in other segments. Some 25% of buyers are expected to switch from an estate car, while 21% will come from saloon models and 15% from small SUVs.